Santiago files resolution that seeks to terminate VFA

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SEN. Miriam Santiago has sought termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, saying it has had unfavorable effect on the country’s sovereignty, environment and human-rights record.

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In filing Senate Joint Resolution 11 (SJR11), Santiago said aside from the inequity of the VFA on the jurisdiction and custody over US servicemen who commit crimes in the country, the acts committed by US troops are contrary to the Constitution and human rights, norms and standards concerning protection of environment.

The joint resolution was co-authored by Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello.

Santiago, in her resolution, directed Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to serve the notice of termination of the VFA to the US.

The senator cited the case of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, who was allegedly killed by US Marine Private First Class Scott Pemberton; the dumping of hazardous waste in the waters of Subic Bay by Glen Defense Marine Asia, a contractor of the US Navy, in 2012; and the damaging of a portion of the Tubbataha Reef in 2013 by the USS Guardian.

“[These] cases show that the VFA is used to shield transgressions made by the US military on Philippine soil, seriously infringing on the country’s ability to prosecute these criminal acts,” Santiago noted.

She dismissed claims that the country needs the VFA as protection from potential invaders especially China that have been claiming some islands, islets and shoals in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“The VFA does not imply that the US will come to our aid in case of a firefight with China over the West Philippine Sea. On the contrary, in 2013, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US would be neutral,” the senator pointed out.
Bello agreed with Santiago.

“Every effort of Jennifer’s family to achieve justice is thwarted by the VFA. The only way to turn things around is by finally leaving United States authorities with nothing to shield their irresponsible military from the full force of Philippine laws by terminating the VFA,” he said.

“If the US chooses to withdraw its troops owing to the absence of the VFA, so be it.

The US has anyway made it clear they do not include our territories in the West Philippine Sea as areas they will defend. I am confident that we can bring the resolution to second reading at the Congress plenary in a very short time,” Bello added.

But Sen. Francis Escudero said the decision to enter into or terminate an agreement rests with the executive department.

He added that the joint resolution filed by Santiago can only express the stand of the Senate on the treaty and urged the government to consider its termination.

Escudero is one of the 14 senators who want a review of the 15-year-old agreement with the US that would eventually lead to amending it.

The senator particularly wants to review provisions concerning criminal jurisdiction over US servicemen who commit crimes in the Philippines.

WITH LLANESCA PANTI

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5 Comments

  1. Carlo Gianni Pansensoy on

    I totally disagree with the joint resolution of Senator Miriam Santiago and Akbayan representative Walden Bello to abolish VFA.

    In a military perspective or from the point of view of national security, the presence of american soldiers and their military hardware are effective deterrent from the despicable China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea that disregards the sovereignty of the Philippines. For the leftist organizations who are obviously Pro China view the existence of the american soldiers in the Philippines as a sort of imperialism, with the advent of technological advances in communication such as the internet, Imperialism is an irrelevant issue. Another thing is that, the leftists theorize that imperialism is one of the causes of the indomitable poverty in the Philippines, but the truth is, massive graft in corruption in our bureaucracy is the main culprit of hunger, and Senator Miriam must address this if she is a nationalist or protecting the interest of the poor people. Another reason, in the rural areas, men engage in gambling or drinking tuba as early as 9 in the morning instead of planting cash crops that may save his family from the bacteria of poverty one day. I have a poems for this that portray the causes of our poverty.

    Himas

    Bago pa man mag hilamos,
    balahibo ni tandang ang hinihimas,
    bahala na kung si bunso’y walang makakain,
    basta si tandang ay may tutukain.

    Sikat ng araw ay tirik na,
    si tandang pa rin ang kinakasama,
    samantalang sakaha’y tumitigang,
    sige lang basta si tandang ay may maiinom lang.

    buong taong ipon, isinugal sa sabungan,
    baka sa silong doon, nakipag -sapalaran,
    bale isang palo lang, natagpuan ni tandang ang kamatayan,
    bulagta, kaya’y pamilya mo’y lalong pumapait ang kapalaran.

    Sa gilingan ng bigas ay muling umutang,
    samantalang tubo’y sintayog ng ulap ang lutang,
    sa susunod na anihan, kita’y malilimas,
    sigurado na ika’y wala ng mahihimas.

    Sakla, sakali at saklap

    Tanghaling…

  2. I think it is time for the U.S. to pull out of the Philippines in the agreements that have been signed since the bases were closed down. As one who had lived in Subic for over five years with the Navy. Have deep roots with extended family in the Philippines. I’m so tired of certain Filipinos who have so much hatred for Americans and the U.S., that we should leave.

    It’s hard for me to say this. Even my Filipina wife says the same thing. She is so tired of the rich Pinoys, the so called politicians who are getting richer by serving themselves vice the poor Filipinos who vote for them.

    Senator Defensor, the most hateful Filipino I’ve ever seen is using every situation that makes news to further her own interests.

    The problems in the South China Sea are issues for those countries to deal with. Either come to agreements or go to war. The Philippines is a poor country with regards to how and what it spends it money on. Sadly, whatever monies that come in, a high percentage fill the pockets of the corrupt officials.

    What really bothers many Americans and Filipinos who live in the U.S. is this. The U.S. has supported, backed loans via the World Bank. This support will be gone from the U.S. which will be followed by many other countries. The lack of support from the U.S. will hurt the Philippines.

  3. Come on, Senator, don’t be shortsighted. USA is important to your country’s sake. You are powerless against the encroachments of Red China. Laude’s case was a sad thing but by and large, it is rare. Why scrap VFA? As a senator, you must defend PHL from the greater menace which China is.

    • danny c baleros on

      how sad for this senator. ungrateful human being. when the strongest typhoon struck the philippines, the US was the first to arrive to give help. money, food, and shelters